By Teodor Ispas.
With less than a week to go until the American presidential election day on November 3rd, it is more important than ever to take a step back from the heat of the battle and evaluate both candidates. This article will not attempt to make any cheeky last-minute predictions, nor will it pretend to make arguments in favour of Donald Trump. The reasons explored will be approached from the perspective of the American voting population, how they may see Trump, and why they might maintain or adopt support for him. Without any further ado, here are five potential reasons why Donald Trump may get re-elected.
1. He has full backing from the Republican Party.
It is true that, internally, he faced some competition in the form of Bill Weld and John Walsh, however it transpired that they posed little to no threat to Trump during the debate stage. Trump won the full support of the party with 94% of Republicans selecting him to run for re-election. This vote of confidence cemented his position as the face of the party and sent a clear message throughout the country that there is no reason to doubt him if you are truly a red-blooded Republican supporter.
If we were to compare some statistics, one could look at the 1992 presidential election where George H.W. Bush ran against Bill Clinton. It was the second time in the history of the United States that an incumbent president did not get re-elected. George Bush had only a 72% approval rate from the Republican Party and its registered supporters, and during the internal party debates, there were many doubts cast upon his potential and chances of re-election. Both Bill Weld and John Walsh attempted this, however, Trump managed to rebut these claims and with an over 90% republican support, it’s safe to say that he will face no internal hindering that risks undermining his campaign against Biden and the Democrat Party.
2. There aren’t any Third Party candidates.
Yes, Kanye West announced his candidacy for the election over the summer. No, no one takes him seriously and is even considering voting for him. If anything, the majority of voters either no longer care about him or saw his announcement as nothing more than a publicity stunt used to promote his new album.
If we are to once more compare this election to that of 1992, it is worth looking into the 3rd candidate that ran alongside Bush and Clinton and what role he ended up playing in the final results. Ross Perot was an independent from Texas, who managed to win the votes of over 19 million Americans, which converted into an overall support percentage
of 18.9%. Bill Clinton and George Bush respectively scored 43% and 37.4%. This is all the more relevant when we look at some of the states where Clinton won by a small majority: the deciding factor between him and Bush were the number of votes that Ross Perot siphoned, mainly from the Republican camp. Just because there are no such candidates in this year’s election does not automatically mean that Trump will win, but it does allow him to fully focus his campaign against Biden and allow any undecided voters to be swung in his favour.
3. The Economy
He has consistently eluded any discussion of his economic policies and has instead shifted the conversation towards China and the World Health Organisation, blaming them for the pandemic.
It is important to highlight that the state of the US economy before the pandemic was not solely related to the Trump Administration’s policies. Rather, it was a combination of policies adopted or discontinued by administrations that came before him. Yes, some of his strategies did have an impact on the short-term state of the economy, but due to the pandemic, it is difficult to tell whether or not his policies would have had a long-term positive effect or any effect at all. This is exactly the card that Trump has been playing ever since. He has consistently eluded any discussion of his economic policies and has instead shifted the conversation towards China and the World Health Organisation, blaming them for the pandemic. Unfortunately, only after election day will it be clear just how much this has persuaded undecided voters or sceptical Democrat voters. However, this brash and loud approach is something that maintains his popularity among his voters, and it poses a constant issue for Biden to debunk and continuously refute such claims. In the first presidential debate, Biden seemed to struggle with this, leading him to appear as less assertive and less confident, as was reflected in the poll presented immediately after the debate. If Trump can maintain this strategy, he could potentially swing crucial votes in his favour.
4. Policy changes and populist political stunts.
Historically, one of the primary ‘make or break’ factors for both George H.W. Bush and Jimmy Carter that decided their fate in the presidential run were the policy changes they adopted as incumbent presidents. The main highlights for Trump are withdrawing the US from both the Paris Climate Accords and the Iran Nuclear Deal, distancing the country from the WHO, imposing tariffs and leading a trade war against China, attempting to soften relationships with North Korea, and the assassination of Soleimani. Whether one agrees or disagrees with any of these is less relevant at the moment. What matters more is how Trump sold all of these actions to the US voters. His populist approach put a strong emphasis on the idea of ‘America first’ and the US nation before anyone else. At surface level, Trump appeared to be rebuilding and regaining the World’s respect for the United States, its president, and its people. The reality might have been different, but the burden of proof, or rather disproof, came upon Biden. During the first presidential debate, Biden’s attempts to rebut all of this was met with severe criticism from the voters. As to some, he appeared disconnected and unpatriotic. Whether or not this will play an important role on election day, if any, is unclear, but for now Trump appears to have the edge and hold a strong case for all his policy decisions.
5. Impeachment made him a martyr.
Trump is still playing the victim card and claims being hated because he is not a typical politician.
There isn’t a shadow of a doubt that the president broke the law and that his impeachment was justified. Saved only by the majority held by the Republican Party in the Senate, this could have been a critical blow to Trump’s re-election campaign. However, Nancy Pelosi’s behaviour and immediate statements after the publication of the Senate decision turned Trump from offender to victim. Convoluted comments that could be interpreted as vindictive threats on Nancy Pelosi’s part, as well as her theatrical attitude of ripping Trump’s State of the Union speech apart and refusing to shake his hand have played perfectly into Trump’s initially absurd claims of being subjected to an unfair and malevolent witch-hunt trial. This effectively shifted the perception from his evident guilt to a questionable state of innocence. Trump is still playing the victim card and claims being hated because he is not a typical politician. In light of the aftermath events of his impeachment, and given how vindictive some key Democrat figures appeared to be, Trump’s claims of being subjected to a witch-hunt trial because he is “different” have become more valid than ever in the eyes of his supporters and some undecided voters.
Regardless of where one stands, everyone can agree that this election is incredibly difficult to predict. These are five possible reasons why Donald Trump could be re-elected on November 3rd. However, given the tumultuous nature of this election, my next article will explore five potential reasons why Joe Biden could defeat Trump and mark him in the history books as the 4th incumbent president that did not get re-elected.